Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Adoption Update - Reality Check 12.16.2012

Another month gone by...we're coming up to the one year mark in a few weeks.  We have been "denied" for placement with one sibling set.  Still have not heard any news about the other.  But, as I face discouragement in "waiting for my children", I am humbled by the reality that those who sent their children to Sandy Hook school friday morning, are attending their funerals today.  My patience wears thin and I am not always strong, but the loss I feel is is selfish and impatient.  The loss they feel is real.  And if they know not salvation, their loss is eternal and so much greater than they realize.  I don't know what else could bring anyone comfort outside of this truth:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -John 16:33



Friday, November 16, 2012

Adoption Update: Sit Still, My Daughter - 11.16.2012

We have inquiries out on two sibling sets - AMEN!! I know now this is the true waiting process we were warned about...and the past 10 months have only been pre-waiting practice, but it is still exciting to see movement.  We don't know anything about one of the siblings sets except their ages and gender (they were reccomended by our caseworker and we trust her).  I have fallen in love with the other set through reviewing their profiles (No, I did not learn my lesson on the last set of children we were not chosen for).  I started to plan, and dream, and shift my focus around these potential matches (either set).  But, before I could get ahead of myself, the Lord directed me through my reading in Ruth:  "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall." (Ruth 3:18) Such wise counsel from my merciful Father.  We won't know if we will be recieved by the children's social worker and be allowed to continue in the process.  Submitting an inquiry is no promise for a step forward.  Only a step in faith.  So, I am excited. I am hopeful. I am relieved. I am grateful. I am glad. And I am still as I can until I know how the matter will fall.

*Art by MiBellaBijoux. Click for shop info.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Adoption Update: Rays of Hope - A Perfect Gift - 10.3.2012

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." -James 1:17

We met with our new caseworker. She is direct, old-fashioned, and unsentimental. But, mostly she is a ray of light in this dark dark world of foster care...a good and perfect gift.  She contacted us as soon as she recieved our file and has been dilegent to keep us updated and informed.  She has been so communicative about the process. She has encouraged us to narrow our focus, rather than broaden it to liberal standards. An answered prayer. Her confidence has given us hope for a quick placement and restored our spirits to joyful anticipation. She seems to run on instinct and experience...outside "the system" (or above it). The process has never felt this personal, this real, this supernatural... We can see the Lord's work in our caseworker's deliberate questions, comments, and actions.  She is just becoming familiar with our case, but we have been so encouraged by her honest desire to help our family. We know the Lord moved heaven and earth (well, shifted our case to a different department) in order to place us in her capable hands.  We are praising Him for his  faithfulness and omniscence. We know His ways are not our ways....but, so much higher.   We are so thankful for the gift of hope.

*Art by SapphiraLorel. Click image for shop info.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DIY - Building a Loft Bed with Stairs - A DIY Family Project

 This post contains affiliate links
As we prepared for our adoption through the foster care system, we decided to arrange the rooms for as many possible sibling group combinations we could accommodate. Mr. Steady and I thought a loft bed would best suit our second bedroom and still allow play room (or an extra bed) below it.  Mr. Steady immediately went to (an AWESOME blog by a DIY mom in Alaska who designs FREE building plans for everything from beds to greenhouses).  He printed the plans for a loft bed with a staircase (instead of the traditional- and iffy - ladder rungs). With about $70 worth of lumber and screws, we built it in two days!!!  
One invaluable tool we had in our arsenal that really helped the process along was the Kreg Jig. 
Mr. Steady predrilled all the pocket holes before assembly and we were able to put the whole thing together like an Erector set! And the hardware is tucked away neatly for a better aesthetic.

Ana's plans are very clear and well organized.  We have built 3 other projects from her plans and they all were so simple (and fun!) to build.  She gives shopping lists, cut lists, and clear instructions.   Go to CAMP LOFT BED WITH STAIRS for the full building plans on this project. 
These are the dimensions of the finished product, according to her plans.  We adjusted the design a little to suit the room we were placing it in.  We decided to move the staircase to the right side of the bed, so it can be moved up against the wall. We also shortened the platform, so the stairs don't stick out so far.

Ta-da!! That's me and Tess on top!! Mr. Steady even got up there to test the weight limit. It is very sturdy!!  He added 4 corner brackets (the little triangles) for added strength too.  It is a "junior height" loft bed, so it's not eye level with the ceiling fan, but there is still a 47" clearance underneath for a desk, or a bed (we have the box spring on a frame in the photos, but no mattress yet), or a fort/play area.
  The staircase sits right up against the wall and is only 18" wide....perfect for little feet.
Tess (wearing ear protection while Daddy used the saw) loves working on family projects with Mama and Daddy and helps out as much as possible. When the work gets too tough (or noisy) she gathers all the extra pieces and builds her own creations.  So fun!
 A few notes:
I am not receiving anything from the Kreg Jig company for this review. I HONESTLY just love how it made the process so much smoother and I want you to know it!
However, Rehoboth Farm is part of the Amazon Affiliate program. So, our family business will receive a small commission if you choose to purchase this product through one of the links on this page. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Adoption Update: A Week of Worry and Wonders 9.14.2012

Everyone warns about the waiting...they ask about the waiting,  they try to comfort and encourage us as we wait...but, really the waiting hasn't been a burden for us at all.  The true hardship has been the wondering. Wondering what is taking so long, wondering where our children are now, wondering if they are hurting, wondering how long it will be before we can meet them, wondering who God has for us...And the danger with wondering is, it often leads to worry.

Sunday: Months of stories, testimonies, and warnings about "those foster kids" caught up to me. I was overwhelmed, discouraged, and unsure about the will of God. Some (not just feels like most) of the profiles on these kids are terrifying....."tendency to set fires"...."not safe around small pets"..."is learning personal boundaries"...."aggressive toward authority"..... I panicked about the possibilities (worst case scenario) and was sure all foster kids were undisciplined terrorists. Why would God get us this far and leave us on this scary road alone?? Are we really supposed to be adopting???  My husband calmly reassured me and went to bed.
In Joshua 1:5 God's promises, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." I just kept clinging to that promise.  We didn’t have a caseworker yet, and the whole process seemed so bleak, but at least I knew God would not forsake or fail us. 
But, still I needed reassurance. I needed peace and I asked God to show me that this will all be worth it...that we really can be a blessing to someone (or multiple someones) and we're not risking our safety or sanity. I asked Him to show me that there are kids out there that he has divinely appointed for our family.
I pulled up a search on our state’s database and came across a new sibling group. The opening description on their profile reads: “Here are some children who truly love God. They are looking for a Christian family who is involved in church…”   My hands started shaking as I read through their profile and completely fell in love with them.  God poured hope back into every part of me. There was light where there had been darkness.  I woke my husband up at midnight and poured my heart out.  We snuck in the second bedroom (careful not to wake our daughter) to measure the square footage and determined that we could fit another bed in there (we had only planned for 2 boys and girl…but this sibling group was 2 girls and a boy, so we were trying to make it work).  We made plans to build a loft bed and rearrange everything. We talked about how their profiles seemed to be written specifically for our family.  We tried not to get too excited.  We prayed that God’s will be done and we went to sleep.

Monday: Still without a caseworker and clueless to how the actual process worked, we submitted an inquiry online and naively believed that we matched so well with those kids, they couldn’t help but place them with us.  I went off to the church to do some painting and couldn’t help telling everyone I saw about “our kids” and the hope God had restored.  As I went through the day I envisioned “our kids” with us and how they would enjoy this thing or that. I thought about school arrangement, age gaps, sibling bonding and other anticipated transitions like they were already on their way.  But, the Bible says “imaginations are vain” and this is why:

Tuesday: We heard back from the children’s case coordinator: “Your caseworker needs to submit an inquiry on your behalf.  However, we are no longer accepting inquiries for these children due to the number of case studies already received.”  That was heartbreaking.   I was ashamed that I had allowed myself to get so emotionally invested in an unknown.   I wept and asked the Lord to forgive my arrogant assumptions and conditional faith.  I officially submitted to His will… in His time….and let go of my vain imaginations about “our kids.”   The department head we are in contact with said they close submission when they get around 50 inquiries ( from all over Texas).  We are hopeful there are that many Christian families in the system with honorable intentions, but it’s not something we have seen locally.
Wednesday:  I worked on a painting for a friend that included the scripture: “Except the Lord buildeth the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) and I thought, We are laboring in vain. We need to le the Lord build this house (family).  My husband reminded me that God’s bigger than CPS and bigger than disappointment and He is not done working here.  We tried to regain focus decided to go ahead and build the bed, figuring God must have had a purpose behind prompting us to remeasure the bedrooms at 2am to discover we had room for one more child (and multiple gender combinations we didn’t think we could manage).  Maybe God needs us to be ready for 4 kids instead of 3? Or maybe He just needs us to be flexible? We praised God for his faithfulness and prayed for a caseworker.
Thursday:  We received an email from the department head notifying us that we have been assigned to a caseworker.….(almost 9 months after we began this process). AMEN.  He gave us her name and her supervisor’s name.  He also apologized for the delay (there are vacancies in the department and they are scrambling to reassign everyone) and said we should hear from her soon.

Friday:  I updated everyone in Bible study about this week’s events and braced myself for the wonders God will work in the weeks ahead.

*Art by: GratitudeJewelry (click photo for shop info)


Monday, September 3, 2012

DIY Sandbox with Cover - A Family Project

 This post contains affiliate links.

Just after my 2nd birthday, Mommy made this awesome sandbox (a roasting pan full of sand) for me. I thought it was great, but Daddy thought it needed an upgrade, so......
We picked a corner of the yard that already had a shade structure in place and leveled out the ground (don't mind our dead grass...2011 drought)
Daddy talked Mama in to "going big or going home" -which I'm so grateful for. The resulting 6ftx6ft sandbox is sturdy enough to last a lifetime and big enough to hold the big kids (mom and dad). We used 2x8x6s for the 4 side walls.
Daddy predrilled all the hole for assembly with lagbolts and 4x4's in each corner. I put all the washers on the bolts for Daddy.

This is what it looked like as a dry-fit. But, Daddy took it all apart again so we could paint each piece separately.  ( I was measuring it just to see if it was the way, it measured: "26 3-quarter inch half big" - in case you were curious)
We used Thompson's Water Seal Deck & House Waterproofing Stain.  We thought this stuff was pretty awesome!  Mommy said it went on smoother than a stain and protects everything from water damage (and she was right - the sandbox has survived 4 seasons of Texas storms and still looks beautiful!).

Many hands make light work, so I grabbed a roller and started painting.
After the paint dried, we reassembled the whole thing and flipped it upside down.  Mommy and I used black weedblock fabric (almost a whole roll) and stapled it to the edges with a staple gun.  We did an overlapping layer going one direction, than a second layer going the other direction...then one more going the orginal direction. Take that, weeds!!!

After weed-proofing the bottom, we flipped it back over to add 1x3" trim around the outside edge (a comfy place to sit while putting your feet in the sand).  We used a Daddy's router on all the edges for bullnosed smooth overhangs and mitered the four corners (Mommy did that - I covered my ears).

Then we realized we forgot to paint the trim pieces before we attached them. No worries....a coat of paint and we moved on.

 Daddy brought home 1,000 lbs of play sand (available at Lowe's for about $2.50/50lb bag) to fill the sandbox. I helped pull it across the yard.

After dumping 20 bags, the sandbox was about 6 inches deep. We decided that was enough for now.

A lot more room to play than roasting pan, huh?
With lots of room for friends!
Update from Mommy:
   I sewed a sandbox cover out of left over awning fabric (to keep the cats out). It was an experiment in math for me trying to get a good fit as the fabric had no give to it.  I later thought of a few improvements to the design that could have worked out:

1. I could have taken a vinyl table cloth and just added elastic sheet straps to the corners to keep it in place.

 2. Building the sandbox as a rectangle rather than a square - we could have used a fitted sheet to cover it- the elastic corners would fit snuggly over the trim and stay in place even in high wind.

 3. Cutting the center out of the fabric cover and sewing a mesh (tulle) insert to allow for drainage and sunlight (so water doesn't collect and grow algea). We DID do this after a few weeks of rain collection.
We also added mulch and pavers around the sandbox to keep the grass from growing right up against it. The sand that is kicked out during play mingles with the mulch nicely and never looks messy. 
It is always a blessing to our family to be able to work on a project together.  We continue to enjoy this one season after season.  I hope you are inspired to start a family project - don't forget to include the kids -even 2 year olds!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Adoption Update: Waiting in Hope - 8.20.12


For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. -Romans 8:24-25

We heard from the agency today: WE ARE OFFICIALLY A LICENCED ADOPTIVE HOME!

The Lord has been working so many blessings in our life lately, this one is just the icing on the cake.  Within the last month we have celebrated my grandmother's salvation, my sister-in-law's baptism and had numerous other blessings and discipleship adventures.  There are so many friends and family members whose salvation we pray for, but we now shift to the miraculous thought that we will have more children very soon that will need to hear the gospel as well.   We know the Lord is working in this process because the caseworker who was to be assigned to our family is leaving the agency instead.  She is burnt out and needing time with her husband away from the emotional burdens of social work.  As we pray for her reprieve, we know God has someone who is been divinely appointed to our case and will lead us through the mysterious road ahead.   Tessie is now 3 and desperately desires siblings to play, work, learn, grow, pray, and smile with. She prays for "the brothers and the sisters" daily and dreams of all the adventures they will share.  Our friends, family, and church continue to show support and encouragement as we await any news from the agency.   Surprisingly, the waiting has not been a burden at all as the Lord graces us with patience and the hope of joys to come. We ask for prayers that God's will be done in the expansion of our family since it is in His loving hands.

Other updates:
~I have reopened my Etsy shop with new and revised items: Saved by Grace . Tessie enjoys helping me with the projects and it gives me an outreach for witnessing opportunities for people all over the world. We pray our efforts, though meager, will be a blessing to others.
~Our summer garden is coming to an end (only pepper plants still producing) as we welcome the coming of autumn.  We have begun our fall planting (pumpkins, acorn squash, carrots, broccoli, and lettuce) and are praying for a wholesome harvest!

I will continue to update you as the process is revealed to us. =)

*Art by UUPP (click photo for shop info)


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Adoption Update: Peace That Passeth All Understanding - 7.4.2012


     The Home Study is complete.  We met with our case worker yesterday afternoon.  She talked with us as a family, then met with us individually for an hour each.  Her questions were direct and we answered honestly.  "How long have you known your spouse? What are you strengths and weaknesses? What is your motivation for adopting? What is your relationship like with your daughter?  How do you think she will respond to new siblings?  What kind of support system does your family have? Community? Church? Friends? Family?  What was your childhood like? How do you get along with your parents?......" She took 10 pages of notes and walked away smiling.  We had fretted for months about this visit, wondering what she would ask, how we would answer, and what her reactions would be. We wondered if we would be expected to be neutral on subjects where our faith does not allow nuetrality.  Knowing we would be interviewed separately, we had imagined us each giving our answers cautiously and then as soon as she left, comparing notes frantically, hoping they matched up...or looking back and agonizing over each answer we gave, wondering if we said the right thing. We thought that after we completed the home study we would be intimidated by being so far in to the process, or daunted by what still lay ahead.  But, instead, as our caseworker walked out to her car, we closed the door, looked at eachother and said casually, "Let's go eat dinner."  We had peace about it all: the answers we gave, the truths we shared, the ambiguous future we face, and the unavoidable change to come. Thank you for all your prayers. We know the Lord has answered them through this gift of peace.

     So, the next step in the process is recieving the official liscence (our case file has to go through her supervisor for approval).  She said if we are approved, we will can expect to meet our assigned caseworker and start reviewing casefiles in the first part of August. And the journey continues....

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  - Philippians 4:7


Monday, June 25, 2012

Adoption Update: The Next Step - 6.25.2012

Well, almost 4 months have passed since we last heard from our social worker.  To be honest, we had begun to move on mentally.   We were used to the fire extinguisher on the wall and the empty beds.  We were even used to the waiting, but we had started to lose sight on what it all meant.   For the last few weeks we had begun to question our position in the process.  We thought about breaking away.  We wondered about God's will in all of this.  How could we know this is what He has planned for us?   

Four months of waiting and when I finally recieved an email asking if we are ready to schedule our home visit,  I hesitated.  I had lost confidence in our purpose and I stepped away from the computer and asked weakly, "Is this really your will, Lord? That we bring strangers in to our home?"  A few minutes later I opened my Bible and began reading where I had left off the day before, finding Matthew 25: 34-35, which reads:  "Then shall the King say to them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in..."
God is always faithful to answer my desperate inquiries. So, we march onward....across the water....carried by faith alone. 

Our home visit is tenatively scheduled for next week.  From what we understand our caseworker will come out, inspect our home (fire inspection) and conduct interviews with each member of our family individually, as well as together as a group.   It is almost like a compatibility profile they will use to "match" us to the "right" children.  We can not even imagine facing this circumstance without the absolute confidence in our Lord and his divine intervention.  We believe He goes before us and has prepared the hearts of the "right" children and will lead the process lovingly along until we are placed with our "match".  We pray that the Lord will give us the words to speak so that our answers best represent our family and faith.

We stand apart from other pre-adoptive placement parents in every class we have taken so far.  We are not seeking "a healthy caucasian infant" like most of our infertile classmates. God has given us that blessing in Tessie. And could likely bless us in that manner again.  But, against all logic and cultural norms, we feel called to open our home to a sibling set...a group that have been orphaned and left in the care of the state.  Yes, that means more than one...up to 3 actually!  I know this is the point where you lean back from your computer and throw your hands up saying, "What?? Are they crazy?? They are going to go from one kid to four????"   Maybe we are crazy, but there are thousands of little souls in need of peace, stability, training, and love... so, we will take as many as the Lord feels we can provide for.

Don't think we are not humbled by the challenge.  The faith expected of us in this circumstance is greater than any challenge we have yet faced.  If we were awaiting the birth of a baby, we would at least know a relative due date, possible gender, and have the unconditional support of adoring family members all awaiting the little bundle.  This process (adoption through foster care) is cold, clinical, and vague. The excitement is tempered with caution, frustration, and LOTS OF PATIENCE.

What we face is any combination of age and gender between 4 and 10 years old. A sibling set of 2 or 3 kids has so many possible combinations. True submission is required of us as we think about the overwhelming possibilities: a 9 year old girl and 4 and 6 year old boys....5, 7 and 9 year old girls...a 4 year old girl and an 8 year old boy....etc.  Knowing that we are unfit to make such a choice, it is comforting to see God's hand in this process and know he has made this choice, holy and perfect in His will. Our faith is not in the social workers or case committees, but in God's omnicence and power.
So, we wait...with 3 empty beds...and prepare our hearts.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1


Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Light in the Darkness - 3.15.2012


The month of March so far:

-Mounted a 5lb fire extinguisher on the kitchen wall on the 1st
-Confirmed registration for the two remaining required class in March on the 2nd
-Repotted my tomato and pepper seedlings on the 3rd
-Framed and hung the Emergency Exit map on the 4th
-Cleared out the second bedroom on the 5th
-Set up two twin beds on the 6th
-Walked past the second bedroom and stared in confusion at the two twin beds on the 7th
-Rearranged the kitchen drawers and installed safety locks on the 8th
-Got frustrated every time I tried to open a cabinet on the 9th
-Took a Psychotropic Medication (required) class on the 10th
-Recovered from all the depressing truths learned in the Psych med class on the 11th
-Started our squash, cucumber, and melon seeds in the garden on the 12th
-Completed our FBI fingerprinting on the 13th
-Started to give up hope that we would ever hear from our caseworker again on the 14th
......Recieved a light in the darkness on the 15th!!!!!

We recieved a letter from our caseworker today that lists all the paperwork/class requirements still needed before we can continue in the lisencing process.  We were able to complete and scan 6 of the 8 items right away and get those back to her.  We have one remaining class (March 29th), but were able to give her our registration confirmation. There is one more packet/form that we need to fill out and give to her by the 23rd (not a big deal) and that's it!!!  From there I think she will be contacting our references and scheduling our home visit!  Whoo hoo!!  A little light in the darkness!!  Just as the Lord had so simply spoken, "Let there be light" and there was...He has provided a lamp unto our feet.

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
 to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
-Luke 1:78-79


Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Giant Question Mark Ahead - 3.3.2012

Well, we finished the last licensing class on February 25th....or so we thought. After keeping up with the accelerated class schedule every Saturday in February (usually an 8 -12 week class) we were exhausted by the pace, overwhelmed by the expectations, and a little annoyed to find out there were two more required classes in March that we needed to complete...but so goes the process.
We are still quite bewildered about what to expect.  We received a lot of conflicting information regarding the whens and hows of the process and there is a big blurry line between what is considered "adoption licensing" and "foster licensing" that nobody could seem to define.  Over the last 3 weeks we have turned in mountains of paperwork, read through a 3 inch binder full of legal jargon, endured a vibrantly liberal government course, asked a million questions, purchased and installed fire extinguishers, safety locks, and outlet covers, drawn up an emergency exit map in case of a disaster, created a lifebook of our family, purchased bed frames from complete strangers on Craiglist, cleaned out closets, rearranged furniture, and prayed prayed prayed. 
As far as we (vaguely) understand the next step in the process is receiving a letter from our social worker listing any possible missing paperwork (like the fingerprinting we haven't had time to do yet because Charlie is working 50-60 hour weeks), make sure everything is turned in, and attend the two remaining classes. From there we are supposed to schedule the home visit ( a 3-5 hour visit where the social worker comes to your home and does a fire inspection as well as group and individual interviews with everyone in the family).  From the information gathered at the homevisit, the social worker will compile our case file and send it to her supervisor who will determine whether we are approved or denied....After that it is a big giant question mark.
The government, as expected has been unorganized, unsupportive, and uninformative.  Our family and friends, on the other hand, have been a wonderful blessing. We have had no shortage of encouragement, prayers, and offers to watch Tess during classes, be a sounding board and prayer partner, or even lend their car for the morning so I can make a grocery run.  We are so grateful that the Lord has surrounded us with this support system. You are all a blessing. THANK YOU!!!!

  We hope to have more updates soon. We ask for your prayers as we tie up the loose ends, experience our home visit/inspection/interrogation, and approach the big question mark.

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. ~Proverbs 3:6



Friday, February 17, 2012

Adoption Update: Running in the Dark - 2.17.2012

Well, what began with one careful step has now become a full sprint….forward…in the dark.  We are halfway through the licensing classes and the process so far has been very clinical.  LOTS OF PAPERWORK!!  We’re starting to wonder if it isn’t more of an elimination process (based on endurance and resolution) than a qualifying experience where we achieve an understanding or skills needed.  Most of the assignments are psychological evaluations of our own childhoods or vague, confusing projects like “write a letter to your adoptive children” (when you don’t know who they are, what age they are, what gender they are, how many of them they are….etc).   
 Our “teacher” is more of a facilitator and doesn’t tend to have concrete answers to anybody’s questions. Our class is pretty large (about 20 couples) and it’s clear her caseload is a bit over her head.  We are just trying to comply with all the requirements (the ones we know about and the ones that get sprung on us) and get it over with.  Our friends and family have been encouraging, reminding us that the Lord will bring us through…and the frustration and doubt we feel are just wily attacks from the devil.
We had our initial Home Assessment on Tuesday.  Our caseworker went through a list of “Minimum Standards of Safety” and did a walk through. She met Tessie, who smiled sweetly and sat in Daddy’s lap quietly while we talked (even Sophie was on her best behavior and didn’t bark, lick, or jump).  Now it’s a mad scramble to draw out a fire escape plan, install extra smoke detectors,  purchase and mount a 5lb fire extinguisher,  plug wall outlets, and put the child safety locks back on the cabinets that we had just determined we no longer needed a few months ago. There are three pages of other requirements that we fortunately already met. 
It feels like we have just been running 24/7 for the last month….Especially Charlie -between starting his new job (which he loves, by the way!), a little longer hours, 8 hour classes on his only day off, church and errands (like buying and installing fire extinguishers….) on Sundays….it’s all been a bit of a blur.  Tessie has done great with all the hussle and bussle. She has made a great leap in maturity lately and her behavior, attitude, and language skills all seemed to have jumped and leveled out at a 4-5 year old level.  She has been wonderfully helpful, and as sweet and amusing as ever. Charlie and I just smile when we think about the joy she’ll bring to her new siblings.  Our final licensing class will be on the 25th, but there are (we just found out on Tuesday) 2 more required classes in March before our home study can be scheduled. We are still unclear about the timeline ahead (even after asking directly on many occasions). So, we truly have to depend on the Lord’s leading, which is terrifying and wonderful, as always.  We ask for your continued prayers as this path is revealed to us.  I will update again soon (perhaps when things settle down).

“For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.”
~2 Samuel 22:29




Monday, January 23, 2012

Adoption Update: The First Step - 1.1.2012

“Doth not he see my ways and count all my steps?” –Job 31:4

We hear the encouragement of our pastor almost weekly to take “steps in our faith” during his Sunday morning sermons.  Sometimes he takes baby steps behind the pulpit to illustrate, and sometimes he makes great, dramatic strides as he shares the truth in God’s word.  Charlie and I hang on every mention of such “leaps in faith” as we encounter the task we believe the Lord has set before us this year: To adopt. 
The process begins February 4th and could likely take up to a year before any children are placed in our home. However, it could also be as little as a few months and the whole legal process could be completed before the end of the year. Either way, may God’s will be done.
We are adopting through the foster care system and do not know who or how old the children are that the Lord will bring in to our lives (we must complete licensing classes, pass home visits, meet with social workers, review case files….before we even meet any children). , but we are praying for his protection, guidance, and wisdom.  We know our family and friends will have fears and concerns about “the dangers” of taking in children with rough backgrounds, but we are not going in to this blindly and have our trust in the wisdom of the Lord for making appropriate decisions to protect our family. 
Although it has been on our hearts for a long time, the decision to follow through has been fairly recent.   We are entering the process with both courage and vigilance.  As the devil tempts us with doubts, I find my resolve strengthening.   After discussing our plans to adopt recently, someone commented, “Tessie is so perfect…she is so smart and so sweet and she always listens (a slight exaggeration). Your home is always peaceful and positive…even your dog is well behaved and easy.  Everything is so great….Are you sure you want to ruin it?”   I passionately responded, “No. We want to share it.”  This is truly the sentiment of our hearts.  The Lord has blessed us abundantly.
Why are we adopting? Why are we “risking it”? Why are we taking this step?  We enjoy a peaceful home…and know some children have never known peace. Tessie has two dedicated parents…and we know some children don’t have any. We have the financial, practical, and tangible means to provide for those who have nothing…and an open heart to love those that have nobody. We have supportive friends, a church family, a fun yard, a spacious home, a sweet dog, a full pantry, and the gospel to share….so, why not?
Charlie is sure that my teaching experience and parenting instincts will be enough to offer to the children the Lord brings in to our home.  But, I believe that the solidarity and security Charlie provides as the leader of our home will be the bigger blessing.  I know from experience that a little stability can go a long way…especially for the hurting hearts we will soon encounter.  Tessie is strong and resilient. She continues to show the compassion, cooperation, and courage that we believe will aid in the transition of her new siblings in to our family….no matter their age or gender.
We will, of course, keep everyone posted as the process continues as we have done with all the previous steps, leaps, and stumbles in the past.  We ask for prayers of peace, a guiding hand, and lots of patience.

                                         The Priest Family

“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” – Psalm 119:133

A little testimony:

When Charlie and I first met one of the first serious conversations we shared was about adoption.  He shared his intentions to adopt to avoid handing down the adversity, torment, and insecurity he endured with his cleft palate surgeries (18 over 18 years) and I shared my unexplained (and sometimes unharnessed) passion for the injustices of this world that left me wanting to teach, heal, and help the helpless.  
We kept the topic on the table after we were married, but were soon consumed with surviving the California economy, a retail work schedule, and the trials of the transition in to married life. With Charlie’s cleft palate fears and my longing not to start a family among the tension, we both defensively responded to the baby questions with, “I think we’ll get a dog first.”  We were surely unprepared for parenthood and thankfully the Lord honored that.  By God’s grace we found ourselves in Texas, purchasing a home, starting new jobs, finding instant friends, and within 2 months…adopting a dog.  We were grateful for the time God allowed in our relationship for “getting situated”, but were still fearful to take the step in to parenthood and just hoped for more time.  When the baby questions came our new response was, “Well, we haven’t finished the house yet (it was a stripped foreclosure).  We need to at least install all the light fixtures…”  And I’m sure the Lord smirked when I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks after Charlie installed the last ceiling fan.   The irony was not lost on us and we had to concede we had run out of excuses and postponements and God had decided it was time we take a step.    Even with the assurance of a healthy pregnancy and several clear ultrasounds, Charlie carried his fear until the minute Tessie came in to the world and he could check for himself.  She was strong, healthy….and no cleft palate.  Tessie has been a beautiful blessing in our life and a constant reminder to be open to the Lord’s leading, since he surely knows better than us.
Almost a year ago, amid all the changes, career transitions, financial struggles, and other unknowns, we felt a prompting to prepare our hearts for a larger family…another step.  But, this step was different….bigger.  Charlie and I both felt that we should look in to adoption.   We did a lot of research and although our hearts were in it 100%, we had doubts about the timing.  We were hunting for a church at this time and were trying to get a bearing on our core beliefs.  We agreed that we would not continue to pursue adoption until we found a church.  The Lord directed us toward Tri-County within a month.  Our new church family provided the godly friends, the challenging guidance,  the discipleship, and the  support system we will surely need as we face the unknowns ahead.
We teetered on the fence for the second half of the year, loving the idea of going forward with the adoption process, but unsure about a lot of things including the financial burden it would require.  We went to an information meeting and were newly inspired to “deliver the poor and needy” and “defend the poor and fatherless” although we weren’t sure how it would be possible, since Charlie had been seeking a promotion for 4-5 months and was beginning to get discouraged.  When the year came to a close, he was made aware that he would not be allowed any Saturdays off during Wells Fargo’s “Jump in to January” sales month, so we figured the licensing classes (held on 4 consecutive Saturdays) weren’t going to work out and that this must be God’s will.  Although, when we heard from the DFPS agent she said, “I’m sorry, there are no classes available until February.” A blessing in disguise!   Charlie said, “I want to do it, but I would just feel a lot better if I got a promotion first.” We reluctantly signed up for the classes and continued to pray for a job opportunity for Charlie. And as the Lord had provided so many times before, Charlie was offered an interview for a job that hadn’t even applied for and eventually offered the position – a promotion- just two weeks before our first licensing class is to start!  Amen.  So, here we stand. Behind us we see the path that brought us here, clearly lit with miracles. And ahead we see the path we have not yet traveled, dark and obscure, but surely strewn with miracles, as well.  There is only one way to find out: We must take a step!